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Chilham Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Chilham.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TR06625346
Latitude 51.24289° Longitude 0.95908°

Chilham Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains and the unoccupied upstanding sections of an 11th to 12th century tower keep castle constructed on an earthen mound surrounded by a ditch and outer bank. The castle buildings have undergone alterations in more recent times and some are occupied. These are Listed Grade I and are not included in the scheduling. The site stands on level ground above and to the south west of the village of Chilham. The remains include a mound on which stands an octagonal keep with a forebuilding, a small building designed to protect the castle entrance, surrounded by a roughly rectangular curtain wall which survives to a height of c.3m. It is possible that this mound was originally a motte which pre-dates the Norman castle. Excavations in 1926 confirmed earlier observations of a southern bay to the forebuilding which pre-dated the castle and was unfortified. This has been dated to the 11th century. Beyond the curtain wall are the remains of a ditch and outer bank which have been disturbed and partly obscured by modern development. The ditch is approximately 10m wide and varies in depth around the castle from c.0.5m on the north to 2m on the south below the level of the surrounding gardens and road. Further evidence relating to external earthworks may survive in the grounds surrounding the castle and the mansion house. Identification of these earthworks is complicated by landscaping of the mansion garden. To the west and north, however, some indications of an external bank are visible. From 1066 Chilham was the seat of the barony of Fulbert of Dover. The surviving structures date from 1171-1174, when Henry II spent over 400 pounds on building an octagonal keep of three floors built of coursed ragstone rubble, with mid-wall buttresses and a rectangular stair turret on the north east side. There is evidence that there was a garderobe to the south east. The curtain wall was built at the same time. The castle again came into royal control during the reign of Richard I, when various repairs are recorded as being made to the structure. In 1214, seisin was granted to John of Dover's illegitimate son, Richard, and the castle finally passed out of royal control. A mansion was built to the east of the castle by Sir Dudley Digges - the master of the Rolls for James I - in red brick on a polygonal plan in 1616. It is recorded by antiquaries such as Hasted that Sir Dudley also pulled down the ancient mansion which had stood on the site, before building his new manor house. The castle was restored early in the 20th century, and now provides domestic accommodation. The castle keep and curtain wall are Listed at Grade I, as is the donkey wheel and its building. The forebuilding is also Listed Grade I. The forebuilding, curtain wall and the earthen mound on which the castle stands are all included in the scheduling. Excluded are the castle keep, since it is an inhabited and roofed building. (Scheduling Report)

Castle Keep and curtain walls. C11 and 1171 - 74 by Ralph, master mason, for Henry II; restored early C20. Flint with Caen stone dressings. Octagonal (the earlier of'only 2 in the country) with square stair turret to east, with garderobes to exterior, 3 storeys. Remnants of forebuilding on south west wall of C11, an unfortified stone hall. Only one original opening survives, a window facing south east. Flint and buttressed curtain wall about 15 feet high, attached to the east side of the Keep. Restored early C20, now domestic accommodation and for a time tenanted by artists Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon. Donkey wheel, C18, timber framed shelter with plain tile roof. Horizontal wheel in poor condition. (PastScape)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

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